pataluma-garden

Despite a deluge of weekend storms, about 40 volunteers braved the rain to plant a community garden in front of Petaluma Fire Department Station No. 3 on South McDowell Boulevard, transforming the patchy lawn into a drought tolerant landscape complete with edible plants.

For the project led by Petaluma nonprofit Daily Acts, citizens and firefighters installed a “food forest,” featuring a rain garden with native plants intended to give runoff a chance to soak into the soil and be filtered before heading to storm drains.

Next, crews installed sheet mulch — layers of compost, cardboard and mulch — to cover the existing turf and suppress weed growth, improve soil health and increase water retention before planting fruit trees including fig, persimmon and lemon trees, as well as kitchen herbs and pollinator plants.

Contractors will also convert the existing sprinkler system to drip irrigation as a further water saving measure. The approximately $5,500 city-funded project has the potential to save 32,000 gallons of water annually, according to Environmental Service Analyst Chelsea Thompson.

Vice Mayor Dave King, who ushered in the March 12 workday with a speech, said the garden, which is visible to passing drivers and neighbors, provides the city with a way to lead by example.

“This promotes water savings. In the long run, we have to continue efforts despite recent storms,” he said. “It’s also a symbol that shows people that the city is taking its responsibility to save water seriously.”

The garden also offers opportunities to provide hands-on community education about the accessibility of sustainable landscaping and serves as a way to give back to local emergency responders, Daily Acts Programs Coordinator Kellen Watson said.